Inked Out: How Oxford's Letters Cross Him Off As “Shakespeare”


The Earl of Oxford’s English is unique. It is both stuffily antiquated, as befits his rank, and slipshod, both courtly and clownish, with odd malapropian lapses. He is at once pompous and a hobnailed rustic. His linguistic profile is distinctive; it is quantifiable. Like DNA, it can be matched. There is, of course, no reason to imagine that the earl wrote Shakespeare’s plays and poetry, or Golding’s verse translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The evidence against his authorship of Shakespeare—documentary, intellectual, stylistic, social, chronological, theatrical, historical—is beyond overwhelming, as absolute as anything outside of numbers can be. But if a Shakespeare needed to be sought, the earl would not be interviewed. His DNA excludes him. Oxford simply didn’t speak the playwright’s language. Nor did he speak his uncle Golding’s, despite a few shared Essexisms.

How do we know this?